Similarities In Joseph Conrad

’s Novels Essay, Research Paper I hereby hand over all copyrights I might have for this paper. You are free to use it for what ever purpose you see fit. Jonathan Welden

’s Novels Essay, Research Paper

I hereby hand over all copyrights I might have for this paper. You are free to use it for what ever

purpose you see fit. Jonathan Welden

Joseph Conrad’s books, The Secret Sharer and Heart of Darkness, both deal with

each of our “dark selves”. These books also have similarities which are overwhelming.

In describing the true inner self of humans, Conrad used many symbols which have

become apparent in many of his novels. Conrad uses the same or very similar objects in

many of his works.

Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness in 1899 to recount his voyages in the

Congo. Conrad hid most of his meaning in his words using a form of writing known as

“stream of consciousness”. This made it difficult for people to find the true meaning of

his work. After about ten years, Conrad realized that he would have to get his point

across in an easier to understand book. This book was The Secret Sharer.

Both of these books include the hero wanting to meet or developing a fascination

for a truly evil character. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow is very eager to meet Kurtz.

Marlow is so eager, in fact, that he eventually starts to panic when he thinks he will never

meet him. Marlow realizes that Kurtz is a very evil person, but this does not stop him

from wanting to meet this incredibly remarkable person. In The Secret Sharer the

Captain saves a murderer from almost certain death without knowing what the man has

done. Later, The Captain has a discussion with the man and finds out his name is

Leggatt. Leggatt tells his story and the Captain becomes more enthralled with Leggatt

ever so more. When Leggatt tells the Captain he has committed a murder, the Captain

does not throw him overboard. Instead, the Captain harbors this criminal because he

feels a connection with Leggatt that he has never felt before. In both stories the hero

identifies with his evil counterpart to the point that they actually become one in their

own minds. Conrad wanted to show the evil that exists within all of us.

The bulk of Conrad’s stories deal with sea voyages because of his extensive

sailing as a young man. The ship in his writing can be thought of as symbolizing the

journey through life, a vessel of sorts. His stories encounter many happenings, showing

the many things one’s soul can go through.

Pity has a strong grasp on both stories’ plots. Marlow feels pity for Kurtz and his

Intended. In the end, Marlow lies to Kurtz’s Intended about his last words, because he

feels sorry for her. She will be devastated for the rest of her life because of a man who

was truly evil and only realized it in the end with his dying words “The horror. The

horror”. The Captain thinks that he should help his mirror self escape and risks

everything, his job, his life, even his ship to fulfill this desire. The Captain sails his ship

into a reef with rocks and very nearly sinks his ship. This allows Leggatt to jump in the

water and swim to safety and start a new life. Before this, however, the Captain gives

Leggatt his hat, which also symbolizes pity. The Captain needed to give the cap to

Leggatt to feel good about himself and, ironically, the cap saves the ship from certain

doom in the end.

Both evil characters in the stories, Leggatt and Kurtz, get away and actually

succeed in their own way. Leggatt goes free even though he has committed a murder,

and Kurtz dies as a god to his native followers. Conrad shows us that evil triumphs over

good much of the time. Through death, Kurtz has found eternal life.

Marlow and the Captain experience incredible suffering from their “dark sides”.

Marlow becomes appalled at the apparent brutality of the Manager and Kurtz and, near

the end, chases Kurtz down just to realize that Kurtz appears to already be taking on a

very ghost-like appearance. Three hundred yards away, a pagan ritual is being held for

Kurtz which awaits him as he crawls on the ground, one last desperate attempt to die as a

god. The Captain becomes very stressed that he will be discovered and it builds day by

day. The Captain grows to hate the Steward. He is sure that the Steward will be the one

to discover Leggatt in his quarters. The Captain gets so close to discovery that his “voice

died in his throat”. This happens because the Steward hung a wet coat in the Captain’s

closet. The Captain is driven nearly to insanity and this near discovery scares him. He is

curious about why Leggatt was not discovered and begins to feel that Leggatt could be a

figment of his imagination, and that no one but he can see him. This shows us the mental

state of the Captain and how tortured he became.

Another of Joseph Conrad’s books is Lord Jim. Lord Jim also has some

similarities with Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. The main character is a man

called Jim, but by the Malays, a tribe he had helped, he was known as “Tuan Jim” or

“Lord Jim”. This book involved sailing and it also contained a character called Marlow

as well. Jim fights with his inner self about his ability to do good. He had abandoned his

crew during a storm when he was first mate and never could forgive himself for his lack

of courage. He had his sea papers taken away and could never work at sea again. He

spends the rest of his life trying to make up for his mistake. A character named Marlow

helps him and sends him to a job in a rice factory. But later one of the shipmates he had

abandoned shows up and threatens to spread his secret. Jim left and continued to travel,

running away from his fears. He is helped by a man named Stein who Marlow knows.

Stein compares life and man to a butterfly, saying that life is so “fragile and yet so

strong”. He goes on to say that man will never sit still. If man thinks he is a devil, then

he wishes to be a saint. Once again, Conrad brings up the inner struggle of one’s

consciousness. Eventually Jim finds his way to a trading post full of natives. Jim

befriends a man named Doramin by giving him Stein’s ring. He becomes very well

known by ridding the natives of their oppression by other tribal leaders. During this time,

Jim becomes friends with Doramin’s son, Dain Waris. One day, white men come down

the river and attack the town. They people drive them back and have them cornered.

They plead to be given safe passage. Jim says that they should let them through and he

will take full responsibility with his life for what might happen. The men then attack and

kill many natives, including Doramin’s son. Jim has the option to run for his life and

repeat his mistake again. However, he decides to stand up and accept his failure.

Doramin kills him. In the end, Jim finally achieves what he had strived for all his life.

He had proved his bravery. In similar ways Marlow and the Captain achieved what they

wanted in life at the end of their struggle.

Joseph Conrad’s books have similar symbols and deep meanings: man has

misgivings that he must prove to himself no matter what. Most of his novels and stories

involve the sea and good versus evil. Good becomes fascinated with evil, but needs to in

order to achieve it’s ultimate goal: to learn more about itself and gain control.